How brands can help consumers navigate their changing ambitions and values

  1. We’re all wearing purple now. Why we’re focusing more on how we feel than how we look in a post-pandemic world.
  2. It doesn’t matter if you fall down, it’s whether you get back up – just ask Michael Jordan, or a Striver.
  3. Adapter, Thriver or Survivor – three different shifts in ambitions and values as a result of Covid-19
  4. How brands can help consumers navigate their changing ambitions and values

Whether money is tight or you have a bit more in the bank, since the pandemic most of us are now being more discerning with our cash. Old Salt and Little Wing’s proprietary investigation into the UK’s values and ambitions revealed that 6 of 10 of us are ‘more careful how I spend my money since the Coronavirus pandemic’. This rises to 72% and 83% respectively for Adapters and Strivers – two of the six segments we identified in our research (detailed here).

But more discerning doesn’t always mean spending less. Most Strivers, Thrivers and Adapters agree they have more desire now to spoil or treat themselves and their family (67%, 66% and 52% respectively). Consumer and business psychologist Dimitrios Tsivrikos suggests that even with incomes reduced, people still want to reward themselves as a tonic for tough times – and we can see evidence of this in the higher sales of alcohol and chocolate since the start of the pandemic.

What does this more discerning approach to spending mean for brands?

With people willing to spend but being more discerning about how, it’s vital for brands to understand what people value and what they’re looking to achieve in life. Taking a closer look at our data, we’ve spotted three core needs that span the majority of the UK population, reflecting their changing ambitions and values and their informing spending habits.

1. Nurture my health – mental and physical

Good health and a balanced lifestyle have become greater priorities for almost all of us – things that are good for the soul. The majority of all segments, except for Stalwarts, now place even greater value on spending time with friends, family and loved ones, spending time in nature, and protecting their mental and physical health. And around a third of us have a top 3 ambition that relates to prioritising ourselves (e.g. saying ‘no’ to things that don’t reflect where I want to be, spending more time doing things that make me happy).

So what for brands?

This points to clear opportunities for health and wellness brands, but those in other categories can also find ways to help people prioritise their mental and physical wellbeing. Products and messaging relating to connecting with family and loved ones and with nature are particularly relevant. We can see this in September’s iPhone iOS15 update, which includes ‘be in the moment’ tools that help the user prioritise their time and attention. Also the National Rail ‘Together Again’ TV ad from last August, which celebrates connection and family time.

2. Fit with me and my lifestyle

The majority of all six segments agree it’s more important than ever for brands to focus on providing products and services that people actually need (from 54% of Survivors and Amblers to 87% of Strivers). Cultural and Consumer Trends Expert Ruth Marshall-Johnson highlights the key questions for brands as, ‘why are we making this? For whom? For what purpose? Is it necessary?’. As well as asking themselves these questions, Ruth suggests that brands should also be communicating to consumers that they’re undertaking this process.

Four of our segments (Survivors, Thrivers, Adapters and Strivers) feel brands should offer more flexibility to allow people to buy things or use their services at home/remotely (from 53% of Survivors to 78% of Strivers). Aligning with consumers’ needs includes making more effort to understand and cater for the full spectrum of consumers, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. Most Strivers, Thrivers and Adapters feel brands need to recognise and celebrate individuality and diversity in the products and services they produce (82%, 67% and 65% respectively) and they’re even interested in helping shape the products and services that brands create (79%, 63% and 53% respectively).

So what for brands?

Our three expert contributors offer some sound advice for brands when it comes to meeting consumer needs…

3. Be good for people and planet

Strivers, Thrivers and Adapters, who collectively comprise 39% of the UK population, have an increased interest in brands with a positive social and environmental impact. Most agree that ‘I am more likely to seek out ethical or environmentally conscious brands than I was before the Coronavirus pandemic’ (82%, 61% and 50% respectively), and that brands are responsible for building and encouraging inclusive societies (86%, 64% and 58% respectively).

These segments also agree that they are more inclined to support smaller businesses and local brands than they were before the coronavirus pandemic (80%, 60% and 68% respectively) – with spending locally seen as a way of making a positive impact within the community.

So what for brands?

Although currently most relevant for three of the six segments, we believe these views will only grow and it’s the direction in which all brands should be travelling. We’ve seen wide-ranging examples this year including surges in innovation in sustainability across product sectors like fashion and food & drink, a growing tranche of companies offering menopause and miscarriage leave (e.g. ASOS, Kellogg’s, Modibodi), and change afoot in adland as a survey by Campaign reports one in five ad agencies is turning down work with brands and other industry partners if they are not working in an environmentally sustainable way.

If you’d like to know more about how brands can help people navigate their changing ambitions and values, including specific needs by segment, please get in touch.

Old Salt and Little Wing conducted expert interviews with consumer and business psychologist Dimitrios Tsivrikos, wellbeing and life coach Leanne Evans, and cultural and consumer trends expert Ruth Marshall-Johnson, and an online survey with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 UK adults aged 16+, segmented on their ambitions and values.